What Is Materialism?

Ugliness shrouds a society when its people live, breathe, eat and pray to Materialism. If we describe a nation as materialistic, then everywhere you look in that nation Materialism invades your mind. Before I continue, I should explain what I mean by Materialism. Materialism is commonly defined as a process in which people base their sense of themselves, their well-being and social standing on possessions. When people are materialistic they concentrate their attention on accumulating material possessions. They have little interest in spiritual, intellectual or cultural values. Their physical comfort is more important.

In a materialistic country people work hard to acquire wealth. They work long hours and some may undertake two jobs. They do not know how to relax. They are often tense and stressed. They will adopt various measures to increase their wealth. They try different schemes. They engage in different forms of investments. Much information on shares, bonds, unit trusts, futures trading, forex trading and other such types of investment are easily available in the media. Banks generate much of the same information and the public is constantly bombarded with it! People accumulate wealth because wealth gives them a status in life.

The Rich Are Revered

In a materialistic society, people are lauded for their wealth, for having moved from the lower classes to the higher classes, for being a millionaire, no, a billionaire! The rich and the super-rich are highly regarded. Their achievements are applauded. They are often featured in the media. Their lifestyles are the envy of others. The average person yearns to be just like these people. The rich are the Gods and Goddesses of society and they are put on a pedestal. Money and what it can buy influences the way people behave.

Common Practices In A Materialistic Society

Hence in such societies, most people are focussed on purchasing property, cars, furniture, electrical items, kitchen units, clothes, hand-phones, computers, shoes and jewelry. The more expensive that the item is the more coveted it becomes. To meet the needs and demands of these people, many shopping malls selling branded items are established. In a materialistic society, the magazines and newspapers will have many pages dedicated to items for sale. There is a huge emphasis on consumerism and people are exhorted to buy various items. “Things You Must Have” is often used as a heading before a page of photographs about items to buy! Branded items are admired and much desired not just by the rich who can afford to buy them but also by the others who lack the means to purchase them.

Many of those who cannot afford to purchase these things with cash will do so on credit. The majority of these are young people. They carry designer bags and wear designer clothes. They look for material comforts like good food, expensive travel facilities and high-class accommodation. When people want material items they will do anything to get money.

So they may gamble at the casino. They may gamble in other ways too. They may engage in immoral methods of acquiring money, like cheating, corrupt practices and just taking from others. Values are forgotten. People become greedy and selfish. They desire more and more for themselves and they will stop at nothing to get it.

Materialistic societies do not favour intellectual and cultural pursuits and values. Books, Discussions, Plays, Deliberations and Artistic Presentations are not produced and promoted. These activities are not considered important in the pursuit of material things.

Avoid Materialism

How can you avoid being materialistic? I can suggest the following:

1. Tell yourself that possessions do not make you happy. In fact, in some materialistic societies where people are always acquiring things for themselves, there is a high incidence of depression and mental illness.

2. Develop hobbies and engage in activities which will keep you busy and away from the shopping malls. Exercise, play games, swim or go for a walk on the beach.

3. Recognize that having possessions will not make you a better or valuable human being. Instead undertake pursuits that will strengthen your character and personality. Examples of such pursuits would be reaching out to others, meeting friends and family members and developing good relationships.

4. Attend play performances, musicals, book launches, book club meetings, forums, debates, talks, discussions and art and historical exhibitions.

5. Listen to music. Use the Radio stations and join a music library.

6. Read books, newspapers and magazines. Join a library.

7. Take a bus to another district and walk around it and discover new things.

8. Walk in parks and nature reserves so you can improve your health and enjoy the natural surroundings. Look at flowers, plants and trees. Look at the way the insects, reptiles and animals behave. Admire their form and shape. Marvel at the splendour of a butterfly. Enjoy the beauty of a single flower. Stop and look at the clouds. Watch the sun set. Watch the sunrise as well. Listen to the rain.

9. Appreciate a puppy, a cat, a hamster. Keep a pet. The closer you get to your pet, the greater pleasure you will experience.

10. Volunteer your services for a charity, a school, a hospice etc. Doing something for others will make you feel good. It will give you a sense of purpose.

We can all be less materialistic. It is hard for those of who live in a materialistic society to avoid being materialistic. But try we must and every small measure will help. Life would be more significant, richer and happier if we shed our materialistic attitudes and behaviours.

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